Seeming happiness and true happiness

We have to be able to distinguish between true happiness, a state which is immune to suffering that cannot be touched or corrupted by dukkha, and seeming happiness, the illusion of happiness.

To find such a state we have to take the things we ordinarily consider to be the sources of happiness and find out if they are really give us the happiness we want.

If they can not do so —if they should turn out to connected with suffering, to lead into suffering — then we have to draw the conclusion that they’re really concealed forms of dukkha.

Throughout his discourses the Buddha examines our supposed sources of happiness and shows how they’re all defective, how they fail to measure up to the criterion we set for true happiness.

Sense pleasures
Sense pleasures give some amount of happiness but they’re bound up with excitement and with agitation. When we enjoy them we tend to grasp them, to clutch them; we try to draw from them whatever enjoyment they can give.

Enjoyment might be bound with anxiety and worry – we’re afraid the objects of pleasure will perish, be stolen or lose their flavor, that the people who give us pleasure will leave us. When the pleasurable objects are persons are lost, we feel sorrow and grieve.

Or enjoyment might be mixed with guilt, when we enjoy them at the expense of someone else.

Enjoyment of sense pleasures leads to attachment. We cling even more tightly to the sources of sense enjoyment, become more and more dependent on them, developing a kind of addiction to them.

Often we find that the pleasures we sought don’t give us the happiness we expected of them. Even when get them, even when we’re satiated with them, they still leave us feeling hollow, unfulfilled, discontent.

Life itself is taken to be the ultimate good, the source of all our happiness. But to take a close look at your life, at your existence, you have to go beyond your own standpoint and look at sentient existence in general. You have to widen your mental horizons, stretch your consciousness to cover all life, so see what is the degree, the amount of experience of pain, of suffering in life.

And for all life, the ultimate end is old age, illness and death.

From this reflections  you can see that while the things we turn to for happiness do give us pleasure and temporary gratification, they don’t give us a lasting complete sense of gratification. None are absolutely reliable. They change, break up, prove disappointing. At their core they’re inadequate, unsatisfactory.  Thus they turn out to be forms of dukkha.

If we reflect carefully we’ll see that a great part of common experiences is bound up in some way with pain, that it involves a subtle kind of dissatisfaction. This might no be evident at once but it becomes clear when we reflect carefully, when we use what the Buddha calls wise consideration.

How do we investigate? In the upcoming Ashoka course on the Four Noble Truths you will be guided on a path of such wise reflection, so that you can examine in your own life the sources of dukkha.

Real happiness can not be found in the realm of the conditioned birth and death

The Buddha also shows us the way out of this Dukkha, that is Nibbana and the path to Nibbana. He assures us that it can be attained by any one of us just as he attained it.  Hence the path laid down by Buddha becomes the most optimistic and the hopeful.

In order to free ourselves from suffering we have to find the  causes for our bondage. If we’re tied up in knots, we have to find out how the bonds are ties, what are the knots in order to undo the knots. This brings us to the Second Noble Truth.

 
4

The Four Noble Truths
The First Noble Truth — Dukkha

3 of 7

Qualities of the Dharma
The Four Noble Truths
The Noble Eightfold Path
The True Nature of Existence
  The Five Aggregates of Clinging
  Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta
  Dependent Arising
  Kamma, Nibbana and Rebirth
  Kamma
  Rebirth
 

Nibbana

Meditation
The Sangha
The Buddhist Sangha